As fitness professionals, we often put our body through incredible lengths of wear and tear. The ugly truth, however, is that our body is our livelihood, instrument, and most important tool that is often taken for granted until its abilities are taken away. Doctor Jen Esquer, a physical trainer and movement enthusiast in Los Angeles, offers some tips for those in the profession to prevent injuries and keep our bodies working at its best.
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
• How to protect your body in class while demonstrating
• The importance of being aware of your personal mobility
• How breathing can make all the difference
Here’s the Complete List of Tips:
Fitness instructors are not often given the luxury of taking a “sick day.” When you have to power through even if your body isn’t at its best, try to demonstrate as little as possible or look to an experienced client to help you. It is not always your movement that will motivate your clients, but how you speak with emphasis and your spatial relationship can also have powerful, encouraging effects when trying to motivate. Don’t be afraid to keep the load/reps low and communicate your limitations with your clients. They will respect this moment of vulnerability and stepping out of your ego
Every body is different. What one person can do, many others cannot. For example, when performing a squat – the depth will be very different from one person to another, often based on ankle mobility. It is important that we are honest with ourselves and only pursue what is possible to attain in a healthy way. This can even change from when you first start teaching a class, at a point where you need to develop strength/mobility, to where you become more comfortable with the content. Take time to assess and adjust where needed.
Mobility does not equal flexibility. Mobility relates to the correct range of motion being used to approach a movement or exercise. It is important for you to know your levels of mobility as an instructor and be true to them. Do not obsess about demonstrating an exercise perfectly if this means you will be compensating your own health. Simply communicate your limitation and explain what the full mobility range would look like. If you’re not sure of your range of mobility, use Doc Jen’s Mobility Method to assess this and how to improve it. She also recommends seeing a chiropractor or therapist you trust about once a month to have a full assessment and provide exercises on how to best improve.
Why are you foam rolling? Many people have suggested it breaks up scar tissue, releases fascia, etc. – The reality? Not quite. The truth is that it is still effective and recommended, but these are simply not the reasons why. Foam rolling changes the tone of your muscle, not the actual muscle cells themselves. The reason it is so effective is because it helps your body relax through movement and breath, which will allow the muscles to release. Be sure to work on training your body to breathe through your nose (both while foam rolling and teaching/living). Breathing through our chest causes tension in the upper body and can lead to upper trap soreness. To practice a relaxing breath, place one hand on your lower rib cage. Breathe in deeply through your nose and expand this area (this will encourage a 360 degree expansion). Blow out air through your mouth with pursed lips very slowly. This will allow you to breathe with full effectiveness of the diaphragm. Massages are also helpful with this, but it’s different than foam rolling. There is a better communication between the brain and the muscles due to more time spent following the fascia lines. Not a bad idea when you have the time!
Other References in This Episode: